I think it's been a month since my last blog, right? I guess time flies when you're getting shafted with no vaseline. Seriously, I was waiting for this soap opera I'm experiencing to play itself out. And again, with my morbid sense of humor, it's been typically funny. I wish I could just sit around a camp fire and tell unadulterated stories of what this stuff is really like, but at this point in my career all I can really do is put down a majority of the puzzle and allow others to put in the missing pieces.
But I think I leave pretty obvious hints. People will always offer his/her assessment of exaggeration. That is why I wish I had like a documentary film crew following me. The reason being; as I walk through this life I would estimate 75 percent of what I experience, I encounter it with one thought in mind: "No one will ever believe this is actually happening."
Then when they see some poor chap filled to the brim with pressure curse out his Israeli pro league coach on The And1 Show or whatever it's called, everyone will say: What is wrong with that nut? But seriously, how can you take a guy who probably never left his "hood" talkless of the Country and put him through what he has no shot of comprehending and expect him not to act as ignorant as he is? Ignorance, not as an insult but as a money succubus camping out in your bank account. Because ignorance is expensive. And not only to me.
Is it just me or does it bother anyone else to know that he/she is totally ignorant of a situation that consistently affects one's existence? Of course if it affects me in no way (I think is rather rare), I choose ignorance. And many prefer the comfort of ignorance.
Where I differ and where my problem lies is I don't see much that doesn't affect me. If there is some sort of conspiracy that kills the bees in North America, I find it in some way affects me. Short version, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I actually believe that. I don't think the knowledge of certain "shut up and live" secrets suffers me to be some sort of champion against conspiracy in any way. But rather, that knowledge allows me to act accordingly (or simply how I choose how to re-adjust the situation). Let me stop... I get to France, right? Well that's where the good stops.
And here's the thing... Moving up the money ladder in Europe I sort of liken to Dante's stages of hell (thank you, Icee).
When you're making the lower-end cash, you're in hell. Being in the bowels of the beast in many ways is easier than the descent to ascent. Why? Well, you know the tormented head sticking out of the ice is right behind the 7/11 right before you get to the giant chewer of man. Basically, you know where everything is and you know what it is. When you're making 3K a month, it's all your fault, you suck and we'll send you home with no money if you say a cross word or make a bad crossover. That's hell. But during the descent to ascent you get a plethora of challenges you didn't get in hell.
At this point, somebody will say I'm lying about what I signed for in France and now that I've gone through this, I see why. So I won't talk about the amount but believe me money has everything to do with it. Rather, I'll just tell you what my old agent (we're still friends) and all my close friends said when I told them I was considering France (normally for young upcoming careers not really established, but my family in Francafone-ish and well... the money) and this is what they're offering. Everyone I asked said the exact same thing, "Check the contract again. France doesn't pay like that."
What do I know? I'm a Euro neophyte. The echoing statement was, for that much they will give you such a hard time and if you don't play like Kobe Bryant they will look for a way out of it. Ignorance is bliss my tailpipe. If I had known, they could've offered a million.
It began when I got there. "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight."
I heard it from everyone from the Coach to the trainer. Since when? You guys can vouch for me right? Haven't I been 225-230 for a year now? Don't these guys read HoopsHype.com? I heard it so much I knew it would be an issue. After two weeks of running every piece of fat off my waist, we played a friendly game. Pardon my hesitance to take it seriously. I was distracted by the dude whose jersey was a different color than the rest of his team. That and their legally declared "dwarf" at point guard (Muggsy was Yao Ming to this dude).
After 10 minutes on the court and 4 points for yours truly, 25 team turnovers, a barrage of guys trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of your high-priced head and a 20+ point win (if you can believe it) by our team, I had to endure a five-minute tirade about how I thought I was a superstar. I was a bit taken aback because I had no idea where it came from. As I explained the issue to a friend who played for this team, all he said was, "Told you so, they're looking for that way out."
What? I've been here two weeks! They said I wasn't playing hard. Sell that to anyone who follows basketball. Go back to the archives of freaking UT reporting where I was described as "a player oozing talent... but often seems bored." I didn't play for Duke. That's how I play. Then they said I was a shooter and not athletic enough. Not athletic enough?! "Get you Bevo droppings! Half off!" Have they ever even seen me play? Hey Vince, by the way they ask me for your number. Do you mind? Bottom line, they were searching, stretching for anyway to correct the fact that the starting 3 man (me) was their tallest starter. How's this for stretching? They said I'm not the player that played for Nigeria vs. France in 2006. 2006. Well, they got me on that one. I'm not the player I was in 2006, I'm the player I was 6 months ago with Tau... in 2008. I left the dumbbells in Japan.
Anyway, they had no ammo (at least any that made any sense) so they did what any respectable organization would do... They made something up. According to the French media, after ASVEL was dismantled by 24 by a second division team, the team decided to part ways with me. Wait a second? I wasn't there. Seriously, they tried to make it seem as getting pancaked by a team with the budget of my groceries was the reason the team decided to buy me out even though I didn't even travel with the team to the game. Truth is they got reamed all by themselves. Then on top of that, they said "my behavior was deplorable." What did I do? I wonder if I can sue. Anyway, the only way I wasn't screwed was with the money I got for three weeks of work.
Ignorance of France cost me money and their ignorance of me cost them as well. Tons of details were left out that simply would flip your tupee. I can't help but think, how would someone else even more ignorant about Europe than me act? No way can you expect a guy just out of his inner city district to have the slightest idea what he did wrong in this situation. Nothing. You just didn't know.
We all as a whole don't know, don't wanna know, think they know and/or insult those that choose to expand his/her scope of knowledge and understanding. I know for a fact that I don't know but because I want to know, I ask. I played in Iran and saw a huge dude who could move. Wasn't great, but I said he should be in the NBA. I was told I was crazy. He signed with the Grizzlies. Isn't America supposed to hate Iranians as part of the "axis"?
Here's an mind flipper (at least for me it was). While in the Embassy sector in Dubai, I saw an incredible line wrapped around the U.S. embassy. The guy accompanying me to get my visa in the Iranian embassy told me, "Can you believe all those people are Iranian. They come to Dubai to get U.S. visa 'cause there is no embassy in Iran." (There is actually a Swedish US interest office there that plays the role).
Before I could say he was lying, he began greeting all the people waiting in Persian and quibbing them about the trouble they're going to encounter. Dude! What are they doing? They'll never get visas! Right? The dude looked at me like I was ignorant and said, "They get them. They go through a ton of trouble but most of them do get visas."
How can that be? I couldn't get my cousin here from Nigeria with Merlin's hat and a Swiss account. Don't call me an idiot for saying what I saw, just ask what if it's true? And think, how can people from a country that is considered a terrorist state readily and with such confidence attempt to enter the U.S. but a country like Nigeria, whose citizens are absolutely no threat to the US (at least non-419-ily) find literally impossible odds to even visit America?
I'm actually encouraged to see how much I really don't know. It was very refreshing to see how incredibly nice Persians are and how absolutely nothing there ever made me feel scared. I think there is a lot I don't know. So rather than say someone is crazy for any perception I just take the info and process it for myself.
Quite often, when one's beliefs of reality are challenged, it sends us into a tailspin. Like the whole NBA-guys-signing-overseas. One guy made a comment about, "when Brandon Jennings doesn't get paid." Remember Dante's stages of hell? Well, the team he's on and the money he's making is not the journey any longer. He's not even in purgatory. He's in a mid-level of heaven. He's getting every penny, my friend. There are clauses with top teams that would make them not paying him the equivalent of the Rockets not paying him. Once you get to "heaven" (big money plus big team) you get paid.
There are a number of things players who are in "heaven" just don't deal with that the players in purgatory deal with everyday. People accept the money and basketball being impossible to match outside the NBA and for the most part they'd be right. But every once in a while you get some pretty thought-twisting anomalies. Do you realize Josh Childress after taxes makes pretty much the same or more yearly than KG? (Although that might have changed as Josh might be experiencing the same I am with the Euro skydiving).
Let me tell you for no self compliment, there are good players everywhere and even more money in places you'd never imagine. I saw the highest jumping guy I've ever seen in person in Syria of all places. I'm telling you, I've seen every NBA leaper and they don't hold a candle to this guy Vincent Jones. This guy is close to seven feet tall and can put his sternum in the rim. How in he11 did he never play in the NBA? I think he makes like half a mil in five months in Afghanistan or something (joking... only a little. I think he's in KSD).
How about Marcus Haslip? You think they'll ever let him leave Spain? Christmas, that dude can play. And he has the athletisism of a half horse-half lemur. Please Youtube that guy's back facing the basket vertical 180 over a guy last year.
I got a new one, he'll be a first-rounder. A kid I just played with named Bengare is a young KG with no confidence. Give him a coach and 20 pounds and a shiny new NBA contract and you'll all know him.
You think people hate when you throw a wrench in their universal reality? I'm about to piss Charles Barkley off (he'll never read this, I hope). He made a statement about no one caring who won the Greek championship as a counter that there was no worry about superstars leaving the NBA to play in Europe. He's right no-body. LeBron and his crew (Carmelo, Dwyane) and the Monster of Kobe (a crew of his own) are not any-body(s). LeBron especially. Have you seen the company he keeps? What do you think Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Prince of Wales, Sultan of Brunei and whoever else that dude hangs with, care about? Championships? Either Charles doesn't know (doubtful) or the better explanation is he was doing damage control to maintain control.
Let me break down a possible scenario right now for you. Not knowing will cost everyone who doesn't know. LeBron seems to me as someone who knows more than most of us. So I don't see him losing a penny. How many billionaire owners are in the NBA? Now. How many are in just Russia that just don't give a damn about money? Fine. LeBron might not really take a deal worth $50 million a year but the mistake he made was giving out the number because now I will bet you there are at least 6 teams preparing their portfolio to present that exact number to LeBron next summer. OK. What if LeBron asked for $40 million in advance and $1 million a month, a private jet, house on the French Riviera and stock options in the owners TV company after his company gets the TV rights to all Euroleague games LeBron plays in? He'd get it. So let me get this straight... The most he can sign for in the NBA is about 6 years, $120million? So that's what? $60 million over 6 years after taxes approximately? He can make basically that in one year net living as a king in some paradise and then make even more off his comeback to the NBA after one year in Athens, Barcelona or Moscow? And he's 24. He wouldn't do that? None of the aforementioned basketball juggernauts would do that? OK. If you say so.
Ignorance has always been my downfall. I knew that team found out Amara Sy was available after I got there and were looking for a way to get him there. And that knowledge kept me from giving them the ammo they were looking for to validate what they did. (Ike's antics didn't make the trip back to Houston any more fun). Maybe it's been the knowledge that I was ignorant is what made situations worse. But if I didn't know I was duped wouldn't it just continue to happen? Then I'd probably blame someone else or even worse attribute the consistency of screwage to bad luck. It ain't bad luck, I'm just as trusting as a three-year-old and as naive (dumb) as a rock. It's all good. This will end up being better than bad.
To be honest, I felt I signed too quick and for too little in the first place. Not to mention I signed in euros. And if you keep track, the day I signed was one of the, if not the highest, the euro ever was against the dollar. Yeah beer? Please. It has steadily plunged everyday since. I've lost a ton! (at least to me) My dumb tail saw the dollar rising this fall and told all my boys, "sign in dollars." I started doubting my own advice when that thing hit 1.61 to the euro and I thought I was doing my thing when I signed in euros. The rate was dropping so fast, I just stopped looking. So it's a blessing in disguise. Now I bet you can guess what I'll sign in next... You guessed it. Yen! Dadgumit. See you in Libya.